Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #388
Number of Views: Two
Release Date: 11 May 2011 (United Kingdom)
Sub-Genre: Sci-Fi/Monster Movie
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Box Office: $5,824,175
Running Time: 88 minutes
Director: Joe Cornish
Producers: Nira Park, James Wilson
Screenplay: Joe Cornish
Special Effects: Sam Conway, Paul Hyett
Visual Effects: Mattias Lindahl, Ged Wright
Cinematography: Tom Townend
Score: Basement Jaxx, Steven Price
Editing: Jonathan Amos
Studios: StudioCanal, UK Film Council, Big Talk Pictures, Film4 Productions
Distributors: Optimum Releasing, Screen Gems
Stars: Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, Luke Treadaway, Jumayn Hunter, Nick Frost, Danielle Vitalis, Paige Meade as Dimples, Michael Ajao, Selom Awadzi, Sammy Williams, Adam Buxton (voice)
Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫
 Mikis Michaelides, Doc Brown & Jumayn Hunter “Get That Snitch”
 Basement Jaxx “The Block”
It just so happens that the Keeper of The Crimson Quill knows a thing or two about the block. Brap brap!!! Dat’s right, I’m a shank you up you hear wasteman! You’re butters bruv! Dat’s how we rolling in my endz. Dun kno. You see; that was my very best screwface. My, how things have changed since the good old days of busting caps in asses; Shakespeare would turn in his tomb if he knew just how much his precious English language has been decimated over the past few years. I blame grime; not the thick sludge you would ordinarily find beneath your fingernails after dusting the webs from your belfry, but instead a musical movement dedicated to showcasing the very best of the current UK crop of urban rappers. Since grime emerged, the yoot’ of today have become disinterested with regular dialect and taken up speaking in jargon. Gone are the days of a simple “pleased to meet you”. I miss those days.
I have had plentiful first-hand experience with these hooded terrors after working in numerous areas of deprivation during my time as a youth worker. Behind the brash bravado and endless swagger usually exists a scared child desperately trying to get to grips with their own identity in life. They’re no different from you and I; although the British tabloid media love to tar them with a single blackened brush and, if I’m being honest, they often don’t help their plight by acting like tearaways. Bottom line is this; kids will be kids. We’re all just looking to fit in and, had I been born in the late nineties, I’d most likely wear my jeans below my ass crack also.
Joe Cornish knows the score. One half of the formidable Adam & Joe Show front guard along with the equally talented Adam Buxton, Cornish is also close friends with national treasure Edgar Wright (Shaun of The Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) and recently co-wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s big budget bonanza The Adventures of Tin Tin so he’s already making in-roads. Attack The Block has been his labor of love from seed through gestation and it shows in every frame of his film. Being English, I would have to say that it is rather authentic, but whereas the thugs from James Watkins’ harrowing Eden Lake were way beyond redemption, these hoodrats are all bark and precious little bite. This, in itself, makes for a refreshing dynamic as, despite wishing for them to succumb to a fate most horrendous, it’s hard not to empathize with the little punks and that is credit to the storyteller.
The premise is simple. A posse of resilient inner-city scoundrels are forced into protecting their turf from an alien invasion which has pinpointed their manor in particular as the spot most needy of cleansing. This entails forming allegiances with other tenants and retaining the status quo while saving their own scrawny hides in the process. They big up their chests of course as status is still of utmost importance but soon realize that the threat is far too great if not tackled through some good old-fashioned community spirit. They’re the boys and girls who cried wolf on one too many occasions and before the other tenants will be willing to assist; they must overcome the urge to deadbolt their doors once these rascals come a knocking. Society has long since given up on these rotten apples so why should anyone else give a hoot?
So to the aliens themselves. Again, Cornish gets it spot-on and the design of the quadrupeds in question is nigh-on ingenious. For the most part they slink in the shadows like any good predator but, once up-close and personal, they really are a sight for sore eyes and the director’s love of monster movies is clearly evident. Shaggy neon gorillas with no eyes and glow-in-the-dark incisors, they scurry on all fours with no shortage of guile and make short work of anyone foolish enough to stand up to them. There’s a little CGI, particularly during wide shots when rapid movement is necessitated, but for the most part he keeps things practical. This is one marvellous polished piece of fiction, make no mistake.
As aforementioned, the gangstas in question may well think they’re straight up “G” but Cornish is disinterested with showing only one side of the coin. He himself was the victim of a mugging and he resists the urge to write a bunch of hateful protagonists, instead choosing to show them with their guards down on occasion. This is refreshing as, somewhere amidst the carnage, lies a strong social message, suggesting we don’t simply judge every book by its cover. The young cast equip themselves well and are assisted by old hands including Nick Frost as soundly medicated local dealer Ron. However, this is their turf, and they safeguard it decidedly well, considering they’re such an inexperienced cast of players.
When called for the youths in question are torn asunder in all manner of grisly ways and there are no free passes on account of his victims being under the age of consent. Despite a complete lack of parental supervision, these kids are forced into growing up fast and, should they not learn their lessons, then off with their heads. Attack The Block keeps things simple and it is this simplicity which makes for such a rich, vibrant experience within such a bleak suburban playground. Ultimately this is a glorious hark back to the monster movies of yesteryear with enough social relevance to allow for engagement with a whole new generation of moviegoers. Above all else, it reminds us that we’re all in this together. Not bad for a movie about lambent apes.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 8/10
Grue Factor: 3/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers: The children may well be our future but the hoodrats on this block are lambs to the slaughter and dealt with accordingly. The violence is swift and merciless, while the effects are way beyond satisfactory and the creatures themselves are a grotesque joy to behold.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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